Eyebrow hair transplants are surging in popularity as women and even some men seek ways to permanently restore or establish hair in the area. The process
typically involves removing a section of hair from the back of the patient's head and grafting the hair to the eyebrow, augmenting the existing brows or replacing them completely if a patient has lost all their natural brows. The procedure typically
involves 300-400 hairs transplanted into each brow - so 600-800 in total. Maintenance of the
eyebrows is needed thereafter, as the hair continues to grow at the
same rate as on other parts of the body.
The procedure has increased in popularity as awareness of the availability of the operation has spread.
Patients tend to seek eyebrow transplants for four reasons:
* They have permanently damaged their brows through over-plucking. Pencil thin lashes have been very fashionable previously, particular in the 1980s and 1990s when women mimicked the look of stars such as Baywatch's Pamela Anderson who always had thin brows.
The result is that significant numbers of women permanently damaged their brows to such an extent that they were left with a completely bald or very patchy brows.
* They were born with naturally thin brows and want to bolster their eyebrow hair - particularly as the bushier look has become fashionable in recent years, thanks to the Duchess of Cambridge and supermodels like Cara Delevingne both favouring a fuller brow.
* They damaged their brows in an accident - they might have been burnt off in a fire or a road traffic accident. Several victims of acid attacks in countries like Pakistan have received eyebrow transplants.
* They have previously suffered from Trichotillomania - the compulsive plucking of eyebrows and other body hair.
Key points about eyebrow transplant surgery & choosing the right surgeon
Eyebrow transplants are perfectly safe but, as with any cosmetic procedure, it is vital to pick a good surgeon.
The procedure was pioneered in the UK by Asim Shahmalak at Crown Clinic - he is one of the world's pre-eminent hair transplant surgeons.
Dr Shahmalak, who also has consulting rooms in Harley Street, is best know for his work with male celebrities such as the model Calum Best, Coronation Street star Jack P Shepherd and former footballer Didi Hamann, who all had FUE (follicular unit extraction) transplants at Crown Clinic. Dr Shahmalak has also worked with the TV doctor Christian Jessen who had two FUT (follicular unit transplantation) procedures at Crown Clinic. This is the more traditional form of hair transplantation, where a strip of skin is cut from the scalp to obtain the donor hair.
After learning the eyebrow transplant procedure in the United States, Mr Shahmalak introduced the operation to the UK.
When choosing a surgeon, it is worth looking if they are recognised by respected professional bodies. Patient testimonials are helpful.
It is always worth checking who they have worked with before and whether they were happy with the results.
As with any surgery, there can be complications such as infection but these are rare.
During a follicular unit transplantation (FUT) eyebrow hair transplant procedure, the donor area is prepared first. An
area (2 inches X 3/8 inch) of scalp in the back of the head is numbed
with a local anesthetic. That section (scalp strip) is removed and the
gap is sewn back with stitches. The scalp strip is given to a
technician who cuts and separates the hair tissue into single hair
follicular grafts. The grafts are then one by one implanted into the
Donor hair can also be harvested using the follicular unit extraction technique (FUE) - this is where the donor hair grafts are removed individually from the back and side of the scalp rather than in strip.
Both techniques are used to harvest donor hair for more conventional hair transplants for the scalp.
The eyebrow transplant procedure takes approximately 3-4 hours and costs around £4,000-£5,000 depending on the number of grafts..
It is performed under local anaesthetic and many patients comfortably fall asleep during the procedure.
The results are permanent and you will see some immediate differences with a new outline. The full results are typically expected within 12 months for a standard FUE or FUT eyebrow transplant.
Hair grows in three stages so don’t be alarmed if you see some shedding after the hair transplant – it is normal.
What maintenance do the new eyelashes need?
The transplanted eyebrows come from head hair and therefore the new
eyebrows grow just like they would on the head. That means they need to
be trimmed regularly, just like head hair. They may also need to be curled
so that they blend perfectly with the existing natural eyebrows.
Trimming and curling is easily done and Crown Clinic provide patients
with a beauty kit to do this. This is very rarely an issue for patients, as most are used to plucking and shaving some part of their body regularly.
Patients find that with this simple
maintenance their new brows perfectly blend with existing brows.
Asim Shahmalak travelled to Pakistan several times to provide free eyebrow, eyelash and hair transplants to women horrifically scarred in acid attacks.
He took a team from Crown Clinic to a clinic Karachi where the operations were performed.
One of the women he helped was Kanwal Ashar, 26, who had acid thrown over her by a man who had been stalking her after she had turned down his proposal.
She had been working in a beauty salon and the man became obsessed by her.
The pictures show how her eyebrows - burnt off in the acid attack - were completely rebuilt by Mr Shahmalak.
She said: "I cannot thank him enough - he worked with great patience to rebuild my brows and the results are remarkable."
Mr Shahmalak said: "I am just glad that I am able to make a difference to these women's lives."
As well as carrying out the transplants, he helped trained local doctors and technicians in his techniques so that his work could carry on at local hospitals on his return to Britain.
He said: "It was wonderful see how the women's lives had been improved by the surgery.
"I wept when I first heard what had happened to them.
"Their stories were heartbreaking - scarred for life because you want to better yourself and work as an hair hostess.
"Doused with acid because you turned down a man's proposal - people were better treated in the Middle Ages.
“It was incredibly moving to see the smiles on their faces after we performed the surgery. They had given up hope of ever getting help because the Government in Pakistan cannot afford to do anything for them. We were their last hope.
“They are not accepted by society because of their disfigurement. They cannot get jobs and, in some case, they have been disowned by their families and left to beg on the streets.
“They are too frightened of reprisals to tell the police who has attacked them and even if they did, they have no faith that the culprits will be brought to justice.”
Mr Shahmalak, a skilled former NHS general surgeon, said that he had investigated the availability of sulphuric acid while he was in Karachi and found it could be bought for as little as 15p a bottle near to where he performed surgery on the women.
He said: “It easy to buy with no questions asked. And as long as the authorities turn a blind eye to horrific cases like these, the attacks will continue.”
Mr Shahmalak worked with the Karachi-based charity Smile Again which had found patients needing surgery.
One such case was a six-year-old girl doused with acid by her father for refusing to go to school who, sadly, was too young to help.
Mr Shahmalak also performed the first eyelash transplant in the UK - on a Manchester woman back in 2009.